Written evidence submitted by a Member of the Public

[Note: This evidence has been redacted by the Committee. Text in square brackets has been inserted where text has been redacted.]



Duties of Local Authorities with regard to home education.


I have been home educating for 5 ½ years.  My experience of my LA has not been wonderful.  I was told they would contact me each year which they have not done.  New staff don’t seem to be given adequate training and fail on simple things like keeping everything in writing to me, which I have requested so I have a paper trail if needed, or indeed getting my address right.  My last contact included telephone calls and a letter to the wrong address, despite having written previously to my correct address, saying I would be reported to CME if I did not respond.  I only received the letter as I have an unusual surname and a diligent postman.  I was unhappy about this as the mistake was theirs, the consequences to my family could have been serious and the tone of the letter was unnecessarily threatening.  I have always complied to evidence requests.  There seems to be no regulation or help for home educators when the LA wield their powers with a heavy hand.  Current guidance is clear and adequate and covers all areas including safeguarding.  There are welfare procedures in place to deal with any concerns.


As a parent I want the best for my children.  Can the same be said of a teacher who sees several classes a day?  Who knows my children best?  So, it seems unfair to be so focussed on the quality of home education when there is consistent evidence that home educated children go on to achieve good grades and participate in society.  Can the same be said for school children?  What are the consequences for them and their teachers?


It concerns me also that not one member of my LA has ever had any personal experience of home educating.  How can an officer adequately inspect if they are coming from a classroom of 30 children following national curriculum and tick box requirements?  Home education becomes a way of life and it is very difficult to separate learning time from family time as the lines merge, unlike the defined lines in school.  Inspectors in other domains are required to have worked in the profession they are inspecting.  Funny enough, the home educators who have most problems at the beginning are those who used to be teachers because the approach is so different.


I would like to be assured of the quality of LEA regarding home education and that there would be standard across the country.  It is well known that certain LEAs are consistently overstepping the mark and that home educators have no recourse for complaint.  We are in a vulnerable position from the authorities and some use this to abuse HE families.  I can see further regulation would exacerbate this and the already tenuous relationships we have with the authorities.  Inspection can be subjective.  Schools say their Ofsted results depend very much on which inspector comes.



A Register


My children started at school so are known.  My LA has been in touch albeit in a somewhat inept manner.  As for those that never went to school, they are known to GPs, have an NHS number, family, friends, neighbours and most likely go to various clubs.  The law states that education is the parent’s responsibility therefore school is an opt in service.  A register implies that the state is in charge of home education and not the parents, and that they need checking up on.  Registers are for sex offenders not law-abiding citizens.  Those who are in illegal schools etc will not come running forward to be included in a register and will go further underground whilst law abiding citizens pay with their freedom.  Funds would be better used setting up exam centres, alternative provision all helping home educators get the qualifications they need.


Benefits and disadvantages of Home Education


The ratio of adult to child is much higher therefore it is possible to adapt and tailor the child’s education to their needs and interests.  If they are ahead, we can run with it.  If they struggle, we do not have the pressure of having to move on to the next thing or we will get behind.  We work for mastery of the subject, not surface quantity.  Likewise, mastery is much more likely with good attitudes.  Their education can be flexible as they grow, and their needs and interests change.  We are able to focus on the whole child not just their academics.  There is more time to work on interests as they are not subject to the time restraints of school bells, assemblies and timetables.

There are many, many groups for home educated children from social meetups to focussed learning, music, art and sport.  They can access after school clubs such as dance, football and Guiding/Scouting.  The only disadvantage is that of finance.  These groups cost money as do exams.  It seems highly unfair that a school is paid to teach each child but home educators who are saving the government money have to do it out of their own pocket, often having given up jobs to have to time to consecrate to it.  Exams are very expensive and finding an exam centre willing to take external candidates is more and more difficult.  This adds the extra cost to exams of travel and perhaps an overnight stay.


Covid impact


Covid has had a massive impact on my children’s education and their mental health.  We went from going out nearly every day to various clubs including art, tennis, rock climbing, science, business studies, football, dance, Scouts, Brownies... to being home with nothing.  Once lockdown was lifted none of the home education groups started up again because of various fears of being fined, arrested or reported.  My very sociable children are [personal information] My [age] daughter has seen her best friend 4 times since March.  Morale is low.  There is resentment that school children can see their friends, but they are not allowed to due to the different restrictions placed on the home education community.  Exam wise I am very reluctant to enrol her this year as I know several families lost considerable amounts of money on exam fees when centres refused to refund them.  This may result in her losing a year.


If we had a system of transcript, such as in the USA, this could have been avoided and I could prove to college, universities and employers what a rich and varied education she is receiving.  


November 2020